Baltimore's best and worst contractors of 2008
by Brooke Reynolds and Matthew Brady
In addition to our nationwide list, here are the Baltimore contractors who have earned the distinction of being the best or worst in the Baltimore area.
On time. On budget. No surprises. Those are among the praises Angie’s List members have for Vince Greco and his bathtub refinishing company, Affordable Refinishing. “I commend his professionalism and expertise,” says Joyce Batipps of Washington, D.C., who hired Greco to refinish two bathtubs.
Greco started the business 10 years ago and works alone. “Horror stories come from people encountering employees [of other companies] who really don’t care,” he says. “With me being on the job, I can make sure the customer is ecstatic.” He attributes his success to demanding more from himself than his customers demand. “If the job’s not right, I don’t leave the house,” he says.
Stop Leak, Foundation Restoration Specialists Inc.
When a customer calls Stop Leak, Foundation Restoration Specialists Inc., they don’t get an automated voice mailbox. They get the owner, Adrian Palazzi, who answers the phone seven days a week — even holidays.
Palazzi prides himself on honoring commitments, even when Stop Leak volunteers to fix odds and ends at a local high school. Jill Strider of Towson sensed his dedication with her job. “Adrian didn’t pressure me to make my decision right away and actually advised me to think it over,” Strider says.
Steve Harding of Baltimore appreciated Palazzi’s work ethic. “They minimized the disruption and mess to my home, and minimized any inconvenience to my neighbors,” Harding says.
Bay Area Design & Build Arundel Home Connections
Annapolis and Arnold
In 2008, the state of Maryland revoked all home improvement licenses held by Robert Scott Huff. Homeowners like Peter Artale of Bowie cheer the decision. He’s one of five people Huff is accused of taking money from for projects he allegedly never finished. Artale estimates he paid Huff $120,000 and only received about $60,000 in work on a handicap-accessible master bedroom suite for his terminally ill wife, who has since died.
Artale hired Arundel Home Connections, which mid-project became Bay Area Design & Build. Commission documents identify Huff as president of Bay Area and Greg Haigis as president of Arundel Home Connections. Artale says he insisted on a new contract showing the new company’s name. The commission pursued Huff because he is the license holder — Haigis’ license already had been revoked. Artale says Huff’s actions destroyed his wife’s quality of life. “The last two months of her life were completely miserable,” Artale says. “The damage they did: How do you undo that?”
Four Angie’s List members have given Stilwell Plumbing an “F” — one of which put the company in the Penalty Box for failing to respond to complaints about shoddy work. The Better Business Bureau gives them an unsatisfactory rating for the same reason: failing to respond to complaints.
So it should come as no surprise owner Carl H. Stilwell Jr. didn’t respond to numerous requests for comment on this story.
“I wouldn’t even ask them to replace a washer,” says member Richard Cooney. He says a Stilwell representative told him his water heater would be replaced under his home warranty but that another worker came and “made all sorts of excuses” why it wouldn’t be replaced under warranty. “I don’t go for people breaking their rules,” Cooney says. “Particularly to that extent.”